Agents of change or arrogance?

This comment appears on a Google Doc called ‘Your biggest take away at NECC 2009’. Interestingly, the contributor did not provide their name. 

“That our PLN is distancing themselves from the “norm”. There is the sense that most teachers are falling behind. But is the issue becoming that the PLN is getting to far ahead to even notice the difference?
Being a leader also means being a teacher and sometimes that includes repeating things several times.
The biggest take away I saw was Arrogance.”

I found this very interesting. Mostly because it rings true. I think we have to be constantly aware that just because some of us have adapted to new technologies and think they are transformative for teaching and professional learning, we can’t anticipate that others feel the same way.

We need to help others understand, be what our profession expects us to be; teachers. Not just for students, but for our colleagues too. If we don’t model, support and encourage, we do run the risk of appearing to be arrogant. We want knowledge to be powerful for all, not just in the hands of the few who make others feel inadequate without it.

“The biggest take away  I saw was Arrogance.”

A damaging statement. We need to work hard to ensure this is not the perception people have. If we don’t, we can’t expect to see others adapt and change their practice.

12 Replies to “Agents of change or arrogance?”

  1. I agree with the fact that we are teachers for all and I also see some of the arrogance but what about the possibility that some people strive to stay on the bleeding edge that it looks as if they are leaving the rest behind? Technology is moving so fast and someone is always blazing the trail but we do have to remember, to truly make change we all need to be willing to reach out and help others up, whether it is up a little or up a lot. Thanks for your post Jenny. You always help me question what I am doing and thinking.

  2. Thank you for the perspective, Jenny. I struggle with this in areas other than technology, too. Mostly what I struggle with is how to help others grow, especially those who don’t want to ever step outside their comfort zone; those who want anyone who is moving forward to just go away.

  3. Arrived at this post via twitter post. Thanx to my PLN for such. I do find myself sometimes lacking empathy for those who lag behind and/or become stagnant educators and try to be a positive agent for change. I need to work on that skill a little more and am reminded to do so when I have felt slighted and sensed an ‘arrogance’ by a few on the “A” list.

  4. I have mixed feelings about that statement, Jenny. On one hand I agree which is why I’m still doing sessions on starting with delicious nearly four years after I personally started with this tool. I feel that all teachers could use this comparatively simple Web 2.0 tool, while pushing a more complex tool like diigo to less confident would indeed be arrogant.

    On the other hand I have always personally felt that I am just an ordinary teacher with plenty of flaws, just scraping by. So, my inner mind says that if I can pick up and use these tools and ideas, how hard can it be?

    1. I understand what you are saying Graham, because I certainly don’t feel like I am a technology savant. But I do feel that I’m a pretty dedicated teacher who wants to always make efforts to improve my practice. I’ve worked with plenty of people who I would describe as paycheque teachers, teachers who do a reasonably good job but who don’t dedicate their life to the cause. We do need to move those teachers along with us and if we come at them with a superior air we will not succeed. You are so right to be continuing with sessions that those of us who know the tools see as simplistic. So many have not yet made the leap. I think what happens is that we attend these kind of big conferences and nothing we hear is new to us. We spend our time bemoaning this, when in fact, the conference is doing a very good job supporting those people who are entering at differing levels of tech. attainment. We just need to be constantly conscious of this kind of thing and make sure we are supporting those who need it.

  5. Timely post. Resonates. A couple of weeks back, during a conversation with some educators in Sydney, it was mentioned that Napoleon had once stated something to the effect that soldiers should not advance too far ahead otherwise their own comrades may perceive them as the enemy. Made me think.
    Cheers, John

    1. John, Thank you for offering that to the conversation. There is much we need to consider if we really want to see change happen. I will remember this.

  6. Very interesting. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Doesn’t it depend on what/who our focus is? In paving the way for transformed teaching and learning, are we saving the world (doomed in this case) or are we solving a puzzle? Are we loving the ‘us and them’? Or do we just see ourselves as having a different seat on the same boat?

    1. Is it that complicated? We want people to understand how powerful technological innovations and connected learning experiences can be. We want to make sure others understand this too. To do this effectively we need to support people in developing their understanding, not lord it over them in a ‘see how much I know’ way. Am I wrong? Is it deeper than that?

  7. You’re right; it’s not deeper than that. I suppose I’m just saying (in an overly complicated way) – asking: is it about us or is it about teachers and students?

  8. I think that there is a need for those folks who push the envelope of possibility, but perhaps these folks are not so good at meeting the needs of those who are so far from the “cutting edge”. This small group of individuals can certainly come across as arrogant and seemingly incapable of effectively communicating at a lower level. But, If that’s the case, then we need the translators – the practitioners to bridge the gap. Like any good teacher, they need to be willing to meet the needs of their audience, no matter what they are – no matter where they are. Your observation here is an accurate one in some respects, I think. Those with more skills often can come across as arrogant, intended or not. I have to constantly check myself as I teach my own grad students and have seen a few such comments in course evaluations from time to time. However, there is also the notion that those with lesser skills/knowledge look upon those who are more accomplished with a sense of inferiority, and rather than embrace the learning challenge, they take on a certain covetous or envious attitude that impedes their own growth. I don’t think that this is the type of person who would attend a conference like NECC, but I have worked with such folks in the past. I have also worked with plenty of “support” folks who do more intimidation and degradation than they do “support”.
    In large sessions, it is difficult to meet all the diverse needs that may exist (a problem with large groups), but there is certainly no excuse for this type of perception developing, especially when we are working in more intimate cohorts or 1:1. We all need to continually monitor/evaluate this potential obstacle. That’s what good teachers do.
    Thanks for bringing this up.

    1. Thanks for replying Steve and for going into such detail. I have sat in on conference presentations where the presenter has been intimidating and has made the audience feel lesser. In my mind, there is no need for this. We need to be imparting our knowledge in a manner that makes others come with us. The last thing we want is to disenfranchise those who show an interest.

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